Sunday, March 7, 2010
THE PARABLE OF THE FIG TREE: WHAT KIND OF ROOT SYSTEM DO YOU HAVE AND HOW HEALTHY?
There are two different types of “root systems” that nourish the moral and spiritual lives of Catholics and many Christians. One root system feeds our fear of God and of eternal damnation. If we think that all the evil, immoral things we do and the hatred that fuels our existence is bad enough, most of us do not want to spend an eternity experiencing these evils. We turn to God out of fear of hell. If this “root system” works for you in terms of keeping you on the straight and narrow path, then by all means fear hell. That is a wise decision. This root system is working!
For others, their root system provides the nourishment of love and a positive orientation toward God and all He has created. Through the beauty of life, the love that is experienced and the love that God has for his creation, motivates them to love God in return and their neighbor as themselves. The desire for heaven is the grace placed in their hearts by God to be drawn to love, not hatred, beauty, not ugliness, respect, not contempt, reconciliation and not revenge, peace not war, unity and not division. They are selfless, not selfish. They provide for their children, the needy and stand up for justice. They are pro-life in every respect.They take care of the earth and all God has created. They are pro-Church to the core of their being. They are humble and bend the knee at the name of God who is "I AM." The root system that nourishes them with God’s love helps them to produce good fruit in their lives as Christians.
However, if our root system is diseased, we do not produce good fruit in our spiritual and moral lives as Catholics and there are consequences for us as God judges our behavior for good or ill.
When it comes to what is necessary for eternal salvation, some roots are planted in soil that will cause them to produce no fruit. The soil of the "world" or "worldliness" only causes root rot! This person's life is not rooted in the Church, her Tradition, her Scriptures, her faith and morals, her love for God and neighbor. Those who experience root rot are rooted in the soil of sin and evil that prevents the person from producing Christian fruit--faith, hope and love.
(Jesus curses the barren fig tree. YIKES! Don't let that happen to you!)
Jesus makes it clear in the Gospel parable of the fig tree that root rot, which in reality is a life rooted in sin, prevents the sinner from "soaking up" God's grace that enables one to turn around one’s heart and life. All the more does God tend to the root rot of the sinner planted in the soil of worldliness. Given the belief of an afterlife of either heaven or hell, a reality Jesus surely accepted, God's judgment on the sinner that refuses to repent despite the loving grace that is given to that person is especially stark. Even the threat of death cannot compare with the emptiness of being forever without God. But there is hope. Just as the fig tree in the "Parable of the Fig Tree" is given yet another chance and even greater attention and care, so God’s people are given another opportunity. But the time is short; the fig tree does not have an unlimited amount of time to prove its worth nor do we!